Electronic legal deposit

Here's what you need to know about how legal deposit applies to digital publications. The main points below are a summary of regulations that came into effect on 6 April 2013. Separate pages cover legal deposit for printed publications.

Main points

  • The legal deposit libraries are entitled to collect UK websites and other online materials that are made available to the public, including those protected by a password or behind a login facility. They have to give at least one month's written notice to the publisher to provide a password or access credentials. The law which entitles the Library to do this is the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, used in conjunction with the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print) Regulations 2013
  • Works covered by these regulations include offline works, on media such as CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or microfilm, and online works — that is, websites and publication made available to the public from websites
  • Works consisting solely of sound or film, and online works that contain only personal data that is only made available to a restricted group, need not be deposited
  • If works are published in both print and electronic media, only one medium is subject to deposit, and the default medium remains print unless both the publisher and deposit library or libraries agree otherwise
  • Accompanying materials, such as computer programmes, manuals, metadata and logins, need to be delivered if they are needed to use or preserve the publication
  • Publishers based in Scotland are asked to contact Legal Deposit at the National Library of Scotland. Other publishers should contact the British Library
  • Access to legal deposit digital publications will be restricted to computer terminals on premises controlled by the deposit libraries. If you are a Scottish publisher and would like to permit wider access to your publication, the National Library of Scotland will be delighted to arrange this. Please contact NLS Legal Deposit to discuss this.


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